Today's post was written by Arne Ingebrigtsen, Municipal Executive Director, Municipality of Kristiansund.
About three years ago, we started looking for ways to improve our IT infrastructure. Our objectives were to help municipal workers to better collaborate and facilitate the adoption of new technologies. This decision led to innovations that have transformed the way we collaborate with colleagues, citizens and other municipalities. The core of this transformation is Microsoft Teams, the center for teamwork in Microsoft Office 365 and the missing piece of the puzzle of our infrastructure.
Working hard to make collaborations work
The municipality of Kristiansund has more than 50 innovative projects underway at any time. They often require collaboration between stakeholders from different cities or municipalities that are often located at a distance by car or ferry.
In the past, we collaborated through more traditional methods of communication: city workers met in person or made plans through often ignored email chains. Numerous departments used an internal mail system, physically sending documents to each other.
Working this way, we were hardly the efficient municipality that our citizens deserved. And although we had experimented with communication applications, they could not integrate into our workflows well enough to cause an impact.
Reinventing the municipal workflow
After seeing an opening speech by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, I became convinced that Kristiansund needed a change in our collaborative approach. We had to use tools that could become an integral part of the workflow instead of just applications that we use occasionally.
We saw that the teams could help us achieve this change and we made the decision to implement it throughout the municipality. At the same time, we stop using physical mail and delete all our old PBX telephone systems.
Discovering new forms of collaboration
Teams have radically altered the way we collaborate. Today, we hold all our meetings using equipment, even when we are in the same room, because we can share screens, send files and record our conversations. And since there is no need to travel, employees can use their time more productively. The teams also allow us to give access to the guests, so that we can easily make videoconferences with participants from other municipalities.
The change has also made our daily communications faster and more organized. Instead of sending physical email, we share files electronically, and instead of sending emails, we often use Teams chat to discuss projects and tasks. It is easy to answer requests quickly in Teams, and we have become more agile.
Now we make 100 percent of our calls using Teams, so we no longer pay for traditional telephone lines. In addition, two thirds of our employees have equipment installed on their mobile devices, so they can use the same chat and video features outside the office. Only one year later, employees average two video meetings each month.
Modernizing IT capabilities
We have simplified our IT systems by moving to the cloud. Kristiansund is using Microsoft 365, and its Enterprise Mobility + Security platform gives us the tools we need to work together safely. Our internal communications are now fully encrypted and comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Previously, our wireless network was somewhat cumbersome and our team needed to use wired connections for some tasks. Today, while protecting our cloud, the units in our network do not need to be trusted and secured as they used to. Azure Advanced Threat Protection has made it possible to use open wireless networks because it protects our users and devices intelligently from the cloud. In addition to having moved all our critical applications to the cloud, this gives us the ability to be in Zero Trust networks. There is no longer a need for cable connections, and our equipment is much more mobile as a result.
The Microsoft cloud has also made life much easier for our IT team. Instead of being reactive to problems, our IT technicians can now concentrate on monitoring the quality of our IT services because everything is handled in the cloud. In addition, we no longer have to waste time configuring computers: Microsoft Intune configures everything for us. We have a separate team that develops and maintains new innovations in each sector. To keep the organization up to date with the new developments, the IT team implemented a Teams Bot so everyone knows what they are working on.
Having a Zero Trust architecture has given us the opportunity to operate on common computers and economic clients. If a computer develops a software problem, we simply take a spare one from the shelf and use the Windows autopilot to provision a user's account within Intune. The execution of our IT infrastructure in the cloud and the use of tools such as Intune has reduced the cost of our computers by at least half.
Creating a better place to live
Using Teams and Enterprise Mobility + Security, we are completely changing how we provide municipal services. Residents can now reserve a public space such as a meeting room or city hall through an online portal. The backend connects with Azure Active Directory, so users can directly access the calendar of each asset.
Our last achievement was to launch a completely customized system to interact with our residents. Each person in Norway has a national identification number that links to personal data in government databases. With the security provided by Microsoft 365, we can allow residents to enter their IDs in a local portal. They can then request specific services, such as repairing a defective lamppost in their neighborhood, and our staff will see the request in Equipment. Even the local power company has integrated its orders and interruptions into one of the municipal teams to keep residents and us updated on the city's infrastructure.
As we implement sensors throughout the city, we know problems before residents do. In the example above, when residents log in, they will immediately see new updates about their defective lamppost. The goal is for everyone to eventually have full visibility of the things that happen in the city that relate to them.
Helping residents feel at home
With the innovations provided by Teams and Microsoft 365, Kristiansund has taken a big step forward. in serving its residents. We are creating a municipality where efficient and productive collaboration is the norm, and is benefiting both government employees and our residents.
Learn more about how Microsoft Teams can empower your employees in a modern workplace.